MH Vicars School is proud to announce that we have been named to the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta’s new list of Approved Schools.

We’ve always been committed to providing our students with the best, most up-to-date massage therapy education possible, and we’re thrilled to have confirmation from the independent experts at the MTAA that we’re accomplishing that goal. Vicars was the first private massage school in Alberta to achieve this status, and we’re currently the only private college on the list.

For owners Maryhelen Vicars and Robin Collum, earning MTAA approval is very satisfying.

“We’re incredibly happy to have taken part in this process, and to have earned our spot on the MTAA’s list,” says Collum.

“This is such an important affirmation that we are on the right track. We are so proud of our faculty and staff for continuously improving the school over the past 20 years, and for embracing new resources as they became available to us. It has been lots of work, but well worth it for the career success of our grads,” says Vicars.

The Approved Schools list is the MTAA’s way of continuing to make sure that their members meet the association’s education standards. In the future, they will use the list as the qualification criteria for new members. It will replace their previous school approval system (we were on that list, too!).

“We created this program to support and elevate the education of massage therapists in Alberta,” explains Jessica Villeneuve, chair of the MTAA’s School Approval Committee. “It’s important for students to be trained to the national standard because it ensures safe and effective care for Albertans. This new approval program will allow us to maintain the high standards that we hold our members to in regard to scope of practice, ethics, and other important areas of practice.”

The MTAA School Approval Program is a rigorous evaluation process that assesses a school’s curriculum content, delivery, and student experience. The curriculum standards are based on the Inter-Jurisdictional Practice Competencies and Performance Indicators for Massage Therapists at Entry-to-Practice created by the Federation of Massage Therapy Regulatory Authorities of Canada (FOMTRAC). If that long complicated name sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same standard used by the regulatory bodies in provinces where massage therapy is a regulated health care profession.

When this national standard was introduced in 2012, we jumped at the opportunity to improve our curriculum and immediately began to transition our program to align with the Inter-Jurisdictional Practice standards. We did another big round of program upgrades when the document was revised in 2016.

We review and improve our curriculum every year to stay up to date with the latest research, resources, and teaching methods, and always use the Inter-Jurisdictional Practice standards as our guide.

But in a non-regulated province like Alberta, massage therapy schools don’t have to teach the FOMTRAC curriculum if they don’t want to. That’s why the MTAA’s new and improved School Approval Program is so important.

“Having a respected independent third party like the MTAA reviewing what massage schools teach and their delivery standards is vital for our profession.”

“Having a respected independent third party like the MTAA reviewing what massage schools teach and their delivery standards is vital for our profession,” explains Collum. “It allows students to choose a massage school based on how well it will prepare them for a career, instead of having to rely on marketing claims.

“We’re grateful that the MTAA has committed to promoting and upholding the national standards in this way. We recognize that managing an approval program like this is not simple, easy, or cheap. And by raising their entry standards, they’re risking decreasing their membership numbers. But like us, the MTAA believes that the national curriculum standard and third-party program evaluation are the future of massage therapy in Alberta and will benefit therapists and clients alike. It’s a huge undertaking, and we admire them for doing it.”

Going through the school approval program is a rigorous, months-long process.

A school first prepares a written application package full of information about the program. The MTAA wants to know about the school’s history and structure, its academic and non-academic policies and procedures, faculty qualifications, curriculum details, and more. Everything needs to be backed up with clear evidence.

If a school passes the written review, then it’s time for an on-site evaluation. An MTAA reviewer inspects the campus and facilities, and interviews staff, students, and faculty. This multi-step process ensures that the reviewers can get a thorough understanding of the school and how it operates, and make sure that the school is actually delivering a massage education that will prepare its graduates to be skilled, effective, and successful therapists.

The MTAA approval program is still accepting applications from Alberta massage schools, and we hope that it continues to grow.